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Coronavirus: Updated guidance

Update to residents who are shielding

by Guy Murphy

In line with the Government’s roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions, residents who were asked to shield due to being clinically extremely vulnerable, will no longer need to shield from 1 April 2021.

Since the latest national lockdown measures were introduced in January, COVID-19 cases have come down and thousands of Knowsley residents have received their first COVID-19 vaccination.

However you are still advised to limit interactions with others – the more people you interact with, the greater the risk that you will catch COVID-19.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said “I know that shielding hasn’t been easy, but I’d like to thank our residents for playing their part and following the rules. Their efforts have helped to bring our case numbers down here in Knowsley. Remember to continue with the behaviours that are new embedded into our daily lives such as regular hand washing, wearing face coverings where advised and maintaining social distancing.”

Although clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, it is recommended that they continue to take extra precautions to protect themselves from the virus. The updated guidance provides practical steps that cover things like socialising, travel and going to work and school.

Summary of advice that applies from 1 April 2021

Until the social distancing rules are eased more widely, it is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to reduce the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing.

Everyone is advised to continue to work from home where possible, but if you cannot work from home you should now attend your workplace. Your employer is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace and should be able to explain to you the measures they have put in place to keep you safe at work.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) has been extended until 30 September as has the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). You may continue to be eligible throughout this period.

From 1 April you will no longer be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) on the basis of being advised to shield.

Clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and students should return to their school or other educational settings.

COVID-19 vaccinations

If you are aged 16 or older, you should already have been offered your first dose of the vaccine. If you have not yet received your first dose, please contact your GP.

For children aged 12 to 15 years, vaccination may be appropriate for those with severe neuro-disabilities. This option should be discussed between parents/guardians and the child’s clinician or GP. For other children aged 15 and under, whilst further research is being done, vaccination is not yet recommended.

If you have received your first dose, you should still ensure you take up your second dose of the vaccine when it is offered to you. Having two doses should further increase your level of protection.

No vaccine is 100% effective and therefore even if you have had both doses, there is still no absolute guarantee that you will not become ill from COVID-19. Therefore, you should continue to take the extra precautions set out in this guidance to help protect yourself.

Access to support

The Council is continuing to support residents who need support – if you have been shielding and need support, call the Adult Social Care Team on 0151 443 2600 if you still need support.

If you have already registered for priority access to supermarket delivery slots, supermarkets will continue to offer priority access until 21 June. If you have yet to register for support but are in need, please do so online at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support by 31 March.

Access to health and care

Please remember that the NHS is open and you should continue to access NHS services.